Epigen Inc. said it has signed an agreement with the Universityof Oslo in Norway to characterize the human carcinoma antigen,which company-sponsored research has shown to be presenton the cell membranes of virtually all epithelial carcinomas.

The research will be conducted by Svein Haavik, associateprofessor at the Institute of Pharmacy at the university and amember of Epigen's scientific advisory board.

Characterizing the HC antigen will allow the Wellesley, Mass.,company to expand its focus from monoclonal antibodies intoother areas, such as immunotherapy, said James Mongiardo,president. For example, he said, Epigen (NASDAQ:EPIG) mightdevelop a vaccine to induce an immune response to thecarcinomas.

Epigen is developing an in vitro blood test using its MAbs. Thetest will measure the amount of HC antigen in the bloodstreamin order to monitor the treatment of carcinoma patients.According to the company, there is a correlation between theamount of HC antigen in the bloodstream and tumor burden.

Epigen plans to begin clinical trials of the test in the second halfof the year, and will look for European and Japanese marketingpartners.

Clinical trials of an in vivo imaging agent using a radiolabeledMAb to locate tumors and metastases should also begin beforethe end of the year, Mongiardo said.

The stock closed unchanged at $3.38 on Thursday. -- KarenBernstein

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